When we prosper and grow and the situations of our lives flow, when the going is good and the living is easy, it seems only natural to be thankful. But what about all those times when nothing seems to budge? When we are stuck in the rush hour traffic jam of daily life and our bodies and souls start to feel like banged up bumper cars? When we are tested and pounded and pummeled? When things seem so crazy we wonder what do we have to be thankful for?
What, indeed? We could start by being thankful that we were not born in Darfur, for instance. We could be thankful that we have all our faculties. That our sundry body parts work fairly well, considering how we abuse them. That we are still here at all, alive, erect, feet on the ground, given the alternative. We better be good and thankful!
The greatest gift of the mind is, perhaps, perspective. Our reflective, rational side keeps us in balance, helps us from running away with our emotions. "Well," my friend Daile once calmly commented in the midst of an intense work disaster that would normally have driven her quite mad, "at least nobody died." That's it, exactly. If we have a healthy sense of perspective, our lives become infinitely more precious to us and we automatically operate with an attitude of gratitude.
If you think about it, mortality offers us the ultimate perspective. People who have, themselves, been ill or who care-take others, have earned a certain appreciation of life in all of its permutations by way of confronting death. Aging helps us to be grateful, too. We understand only too well that times that are easy are easy and that the hard times don't ever get easy. That is why they are hard. But hard compared to what?
We have all witnessed, experienced or been privy to profound disasters and devastating tragedies. We have learned something, usually the hard way, of the infinite insidious adversities to which we humans are prey. And we have all known so many folks who did not make it this far in life. But even so, for most of us it is a daily, hourly, minutely learned lesson -- one that we easily forget. One that we would be wise to remember.
So lest you forget to be thankful at every turn, for every gift, grand and small, here is a suggestion for A Moving Meditation of Appreciation.
Take a walk someplace nice. Alone.
With every step you take, name one good thing that you have in your life, something for which you are sincerely grateful. Name each thing or being out loud or silently.
Step. My health.
Step. My spouse.
Step. My work.
Step. My dog.
Step. My friends
Step. My home.
Step. The clouds.
Step, The trees.
Step. The birds.
Step. The bunnies.
Step. The babies.
Step. The wind.
Step. The oceans.
Step. The beautiful moon.
Step. Not knowing war.
Step. The love in my life.
Step. The air I breathe.
Step. The rhythm of my heart.
Step. My eye that can see.
Step. My own two feet.
This practice is a great cure for depression, defeatism, self-pity and envy. I highly recommend its use daily. Chant your gratitude every morning on the way to work and see how good you feel when you get there!
It is amazing, once we start, just how long our litany is. The more we recognize the extent of our gratitude, the longer the list becomes. We each have enough to be thankful for to recite as we walk along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Despite whatever difficulties we might face, we all are blessed with a profuse abundance of abundance in our lives. For this, let us give thanks.